Want one simple way to improve your chances of living a long healthy life? Turn off your television. That’s the advice of a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers found that more than two to three hours of tube time a day increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and death from all causes.
Scientists reviewed several studies conducted between 1970 and March 2011 to reach their conclusions. They estimate that reducing daily TV time by two hours could prevent 176 new cases of diabetes, 38 cases of fatal cardiovascular disease, and 104 premature deaths a year per 100,000 people in the U.S. Americans now watch an average of five hours of television per day.
“The message is simple,” said study author Dr. Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health. “Cutting back on TV watching can significantly reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature mortality.”
Watching TV is not only associated with sedentary behavior, but also with unhealthy eating (e.g., chips, candy, fried foods, processed meat) and a lower intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Researchers hope that future studies will examine whether the time we spend with our new media devices, such as smartphones and computers, is similarly risky.